There wasn’t any sign of the reality-mangling Kep Effect. She felt none of the discomfort usually associated with a high-intensity energy weapon volley. No ship architecture-shift protocol had been activated.
Yet for no reason she could see, part of the Afterthought had slumped down like a melting ice sculpture.
Her cabin and her forward visual sensors now rested at a 45 degree angle.
Rachel-7 hadn’t been afraid of the fusion cannon explosion or the Kep Effect or Alitma’s warship.
But now, alone and totally out of her depth, Rachel-7 felt real fear.
“Trak?! Daniel?!” she screamed. “Someone?!”
Rachel-7 became aware that the view from her optical sensors had shifted. Originally they depicted a bright light, but they now showed something … else.
Something that, despite her fear, she quickly identified.
It was a pair of feet.
She felt the fear melt away, replaced with a blinding rage.
She’d been wrong – she wasn't inside the Afterthought, and hadn't been since the explosion.
The minor discomfort, the condensation, the energy conundrum, the indecipherable movement readings all suddenly made sense.
Rachel-7 was itchy, sweating, hungry and 100 percent organic.
The ship hadn't bent; Rachel-7 had tilted her neck down to avoid the glare. There was no intruder onboard; it was the sound of her own respiration.
There had been no coolant leak; she had smacked her nose – the round object that had been blocking her view – on the ground and bled on the floor.
And, as for the “acid,” she must have smelled something awful.
Her junkpile of a ship had disappeared, replaced with something much worse.
Rachel-7 was human.
And it was all Daniel’s fault.
I knew I’d been lobotomized, she thought.